By Peter Agba Kalu

Oluchi Ogwo the Ex-Nigerian handball star grooming female youths to fulfil dreams in USA was my class mate. Me and her use to fight in class like there was no tomorrow, from childhood, she didn’t even recognize the fact that she was a girl. She was courageous like a boy, an attribute she carried to adulthood.

We will fight today, since we were living in the same street, Jubille road Aba, the next morning l will carry my school bag from 93 Jubille road Aba to 168 Jubilee being their house to go and connect her so that we will go to school together. In the class we will start fighting again. She once snatched my ice cream during break, being very stubborn then and always looking for people’s trouble, on lookers around will feel so happy and laugh at me that l have found my match in her.

From childhood, she was courageous, strong, daring and a young girl who has grown to always do what far more than a man can do. So, if this dynamic young lady is stepping out to dare the system and say enough is enough please take her serious.

Oluchi represents what the African woman has been longing for, she is a strong state of fact to proof that having only the female is not a curse for any family. Oluchi, has destroyed that tradition n the African culture, where the male child is valued more than anything else. Many African women, therefore, feel unfilled when they don’t have a male child. They visit marabout, storm prayer houses, bath naked by the riverside and are ready to go to any length just to have a male child for their husband.

Out of ignorance, most husbands in Africa have abandoned their wives for not giving birth to a male child or children. They make female children feel not valued.

However, the story of Oluchi Victoria Ogwo inspires every female child. It is a story that gives hope to families around the world with only female kids.

First, the family of Ogwo welcomed the birth of their daughter, Oluchi. Her case was serious because, she was not just a female child, but also equally the only child.

Oluchi was born when in some Igbo tradition then, having a female child was like not having a child. At that time, questions were asked about who will continue to procreate the man’s generation, especially, since the female child didn’t inherit property and are restricted by traditions and culture from performing certain traditional rites.

Growing up, young Oluchi discovered that not a few people were looking the Ogwo family with pity as she was not only a female child, but also the only child. That’s why she felt challenged to proof them wrong, right from tender age.

Therefore, little Oluchi stepped out to take the world by storm. From day one, feeling the pains of her mum as a result of those mocking words she heard some people said about her being a female, she looked at glory for herself, family and country.

She picked handball game as a career. Starting with the Grasshopper Handball Club of Owerri in Imo State, which was the best team in Africa then, she launched to limelight. At 17 she was already making waves, as it did not take long for her to announce her presence in the sports world. She easily became the first female handball player from Africa to play professional overseas.

Oluchi’s career spanned was eventful. She played for top clubs across the world. She was with Grasshoppers Handball Club Owerri, Nigeria, where she was Best Player at African Junior Championship in 1984. She played for Zaoul Meuble Club, Tunisia (1987-1990), Clorado Springs Stars, USA (1990-1994), Buxtehude, 1. German division (1997-1998), Hypo Suedstadt, Austria (1998-1999), SSV Schoren, Dombirn, Austria (1999-2000), ZV Handball McD Wiener Noustact, Austria (2000-2001), LC Bruehi, St. Gallen, Swiitzerland (2001-2003). In 2003, she was invited to the 8th All African Games in Abuja, Nigeria.

Oluchi, therefore, registered the name of Nigerian as the nation that produced the first female professional handball player in Africa. For year, she carried and defended Nigeria’s flag in the sports world, and her highly successful professional handball playing career is a testament to her tenacity and resolve to prove that parents should equally be happy and feel blessed with female children.

It was at Oluchi’s time and under her leadership that Grasshoppers Handball Club, Imo State dominated the scene. The club for years won every competition in Nigeria and Africa.

In Tunisia, Germany and Austria, her name rand bell. She won many laurels with her professional teams in these countries. The height of her achievements was playing in European Champions League for HYPO Suedstadt of Austria, the world best women handball team then.

Between 1982 and1987, Oluchi was fives times Nigerian champion. In 1984, she was Best Player at the African Junior Championship; 1987-1989, Double Champion of Tunisia and top scorer; 1992-1996, four times American champion, four times Most Valuable Player and highest scorer. She was National B team, USA, gold medalist at Olympic festival. From 1998-1999, she was two times Austrian champion with Hypo Suedstadt. From 2001-2003, she was three times Swiss Champion and cup winner of Switzerland.

Oluchi became so outstanding handball player, to the extent that she featured in 2003 World Handball Magazine (published by International Handball Federation IHF), as one of the Best Female Athletes in the World. As a superstar, she earned commercial endorsements across the world. This was how she became the biggest female handball player to come out of Africa. Whatever Samuel Eto, Kanu Nwankwo, George Weah, Abedi Pele Ayew were to African football, Oluchi was to African handball.

Oluchi retired from active sports due to shoulder injury. Today, she runs Little Women Group, Maryland, USA, an organisation that empowers young women through interaction, with positive role models, with the aim at building their social skills and sharpening their self-esteem in order to be competitive in today’s society.

This retired handball player is a certified Personal Trainer/Nutritional Specialist and Sports Management Consultants. Her goal is to galvanise athletes, especially women to fulfill their dreams in sports through leadership, respect, discipline and team spirit.

Born of Item parents, in Bende Local Government Area, Abia State, Oluchi Victoria Ogwo holds the title Ada Igbo 1.

In Oluchi, parents can see that which ever child God blesses you with, you need to forever remain grateful. Her desire to step out isn’t a personal desire, it’s answering to pressure from the people of Abia across party line and those not interested in party. Who see in her a mother that can feel the pains of her children and step out to clean their tears.

Oluchi’s success is going to represent the success of every girl out there that aspire to be great.

Haven said that, she needs my support she have to replace my ice cream and say me Sir PAK sorry. Then promise not to be finding my trouble when she becomes Her Excellence.

By Dez Mayorz

Am Flamboyant. Oku!

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